Single Review: Lady A(ntebellum), “Like A Lady”

“Like A Lady”

Lady A(ntebellum)

Written by Dave Barnes, Michelle Buzz, Martin Johnson, Brandon Scott, and Hillary Scott

Lady A(ntebellum) have always sucked.

Their aggressively mediocre material, coupled with Hillary Scott’s bland and colorless vocals and the non-existent harmonies provided by her bandmates, have produced cloying and tiresome country muzak that has been a drag on the genre for as long as they’ve been on the scene.

They’ve never had an original thought in their heads.  Even their one decent song, “Need You Now,” was a college dorm drunk rewrite of the far superior “I May Hate Myself in the Morning,” stripped of that classic’s maturity, angst, and vocals sung in key.

But they sink to new lows with “Like A Lady.”

Their co-opting of a black woman’s stage name and their abuse of their wealth and connections to destroy her livelihood, had already shown that the A still very much stands for Antebellum, and their pathetic “we want to meet the moment!” pledge was quickly exposed as the performative garbage that it was from the beginning.

But to do this! To be so gratuitous as to build an entire song around the name you have stolen from a black woman, and then present yourself as championing women with that very record, is so shockingly, relentlessly awful that it makes me sick to my stomach.

Here’s just a little of their self-serving trash:

As we were writing it, I was like ‘ It’s always been my dream to do a song that combines the things I love about Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ and Shania Twain’s ‘ Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ – two of the most strong. powerful female songs ever. So it was like ‘ How can we do our version of that?’ “.

Its powerful statement is one that’s important to all the group members, and as Hillary goes on to say “It’s incredible that Charles and Dave, in all their masculinity, are willing to sing right alongside me on this song… it’s super important for strong, great men to stand beside women and propel them forward“.

This song has such a great feel to it” band member Charles Kelley adds. ” One of the coolest parts of being a co-ed band is being able to share those different perspectives, so that’s just part of what we get to do”. And Dave Haywood adds ” We are some of the biggest champions for ‘Like A Lady’ and we’re honoured to stand alongside Hillary. We’ve had a front row seat to her strength over the years and we love linking arms with her on this song

A song written as a blatant, in-your-face insult to a black woman is presented as an anthem for women, and the men present themselves as heroes for supporting their heroine as she strikes a blow for women’s rights by….being openly cruel and vindictive toward the black woman who refused to provide cover to their faux wokeness and whose livelihood they have destroyed.

The astonishing sense of white privilege and their sickening sense of entitlement permeates everything on and around “Like A Lady.” To even mention those Shania Twain and Dolly Parton classics in the same breath as this garbage record is an insult not only to the talent of those two women, but to the fact that they are among the few country artists who have shown real solidarity with black Americans during this time of racial reckoning.

The song title is an idiot’s variation on Ingrid Andress’ “Lady Like.”  (“Ooh! We can call it Like A Lady! Get it???”)  They drop the line “Hips don’t lie” as if Shakira ghost wrote it for them.  And the hook, if you can call it that, is a carbon copy of Britney Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy.”

Everything on “Like A Lady” is assembled from spare parts and assembled on the backs of other women who have done the work.

There is a lot of talk about implicit bias and, to borrow from another terrible song, “accidental racism” these days.

But the racism on display in “Like A Lady” is explicit and intentional, and it’s a mark of shame that will be more memorable than any of the white bread music that they’ve made over the years.

We’ve always known that they were a terrible band.  With “Like A Lady,” they also make clear that they are terrible people.

Grade: F

29 Comments

  1. Their music stinks, As people, they are over the top with their hostility toward the real Lady A.

    Of course, they can bank on people being more offended by their racism being called out than by the racism itself.

  2. I actually kind of like this song as I have always liked Hillary’s voice and I find the song pretty catchy.

    Not anything outstanding but harmless radio fodder. I guess this is going into the guilty pleasure pile.

    That being said I don’t take their side at all in the whole Lady A name controversy.

  3. I’ve never been the biggest Lady A fan and haven’t listened to this song, but this review is over the top in its hostility.

  4. This song is beyond abhorrent, and the band members’ lack of self-awareness is truly stunning. Has there ever been a more egregious example of white privilege in country music, or any genre of music? They should be ashamed of themselves.

  5. One occasionally subscribes to a musical act not so much because of the output they have achieved as what that output suggests they *might* achieve.

    For me, it was Jessica Andrews circa her cover of Carlene Carter’s *Unbreakable Heart*, Steel Magnolias circa *Keep on Loving You*, and Lady A circa “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.

    Sometimes these acts will disappear from the mainstream for reasons that remain largely private; sometimes they will implode for reasons tragically public.

    Lady A has neither disappeared nor imploded, but they have also never fulfilled the promise of their first record. They have, to my awareness, not even tried. Instead, they’ve aimed their sound consistently at the lower mark of their follow-up, “Lookin’ for a Good Time”, and they’ve missed even that very middling target more often than they’ve hit it.

    KJC, you mentioned that this song was ‘cobbled from spare parts’ and owes its hook to the euro-pop of “(You Drive Me) Crazy”. The lyric meter of the ABAB “A Lady [patter] A Lady [patter]” chorus structure reminded me of Hot Chelle Rae’s “Tonight, Tonight” — itself more an earworm than a favorite, to be clear — when I heard it.

    The melodic progression of the opening of each verse up the root major triad from an alto’s low Eb, settling on the next octave’s Eb with transit through the 6th below and 2nd above (apologies if my layman’s comprehension of music theory fails this description) is likewise so familiar to my ears that I feel I must have heard it before.

    It recalls the uncomfortably close proximity between the sound of their signature hit “Need You Now” and Alan Parsons Project’s “Eye in the Sky”, which was remarked upon at the time, and was more marked, IMHO, than instances of musical pastiche/homage (“Blurred Lines”) that have been legally judged to constitute plagiarism.

    No matter the success of “Need You Now”, a more self-aware act might have taken pains not to take their inspiration so readily from others’ work… but if there’s one thing Lady A has proven not to be from the very start of their career, it is self-aware. I may have enjoyed “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, but I was calling them “Lady before-the-Civil-War” even then.

    In the bemused public reaction when the band announced their name change, one of my very favorite takes came from a Twitter comment that drew reference to one of the funniest jokes in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”: an incompetent, self-obsessed theatrical director who, after reading the script for “Springtime for Hitler”, says that he “never realized the Third Reich meant Germany!”.

    The litigation over “Lady A” certainly does paint the group’s decision to drop ‘ntebellum’ as a self-serving act, such that I’m even led to wonder whether it was meant merely to preempt or eliminate external pressures a la Cleveland’s baseball team or Washington’s football team.

    Once they decided *not* to move on from Lady A, however, and especially once Ms. White publicly raised the prospect of remuneration, the band really had no other option than to respond by seeking a declaratory legal judgement of their trademark. Not doing so would risk (at best) losing that property interest, and (at worst) facing subsequent proceedings *initiated by* Ms. White from a compromised position.

  6. For some additional context, here’s a recent interview with these three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d58huxtCrlE&feature=youtu.be

    Of note: How the trio fall over themselves to use phrases like, “friends of color,” while framing the entirety of the controversy surrounding their name change– which was entirely within their own control– as some unpleasantness that happened to them. There’s little to no acknowledgement of Lady A– only Charles Kelley even uses her name, and only after 3/4 of the interview has passed during which he and his bandmates cast themselves as victims– or any implication that they’ve considered that their own actions had caused harm to a living, breathing human.

    It’s spectacularly gross. And it certainly sets the stage that they’d approach their name change with exactly the kind of glib, cavalier, and yes *privileged* attitude on display with this single.

  7. “Friends of color”? Wow. I got nothin’.

    I rather liked ” Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Hey Bartender,” but that was about as far as it went for me.

  8. I listened to the video twice – I think it is a dumb song, but by no means the worst dreck I’ve heard on country radio this year. I think you are reading things into the lyrics and title that simply aren’t there. It’s okay not to like them or the song (and perhaps what I am detecting is some degree of prejudice against fat people because in the studio video that seems to be the best description of Hillary Scott (but just wait until you get older)

    By any objective standard, this song is somewhere in the C- to D range, not an F

  9. Gotta say after listening to the song and reading the lyrics I don’t think I would have drawn any real connection to the name controversy if reviewers that were already openly hostile to the band didn’t keep angrily telling me that I should.

  10. @ Paul,

    I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be to this post, but implying that fat shaming had something to do with the negative review is an angle I wouldn’t have anticipated.

    I mean, seriously? I didn’t even watch the video, and who cares what Hillary Scott or anyone else weighs?

    The song’s audio was terrible enough without the video. Didn’t even need the racism to get it down to an F. By virtue of there not being a grade lower than F, an F is fairly generous.

  11. @ Jane, your reaction was similar to mine. Something along the lines of, “Wait. Did they cover the Ingrid…no, wait, Like A Lady. With a capital A. They didn’t. They wouldn’t. Dear God, they did.”

    That the record itself is terrible is the only thing unsurprising. But I’ve been ringing that bell since “American Honey.”

    How do you rob a BRITNEY SPEARS hook of its charm and musicality?

  12. I was originally impressed when they announced that they were going to change their name, but boy have they really messed up what started out seeming like a good thing!

  13. …country music has its own “seinfeld” episode. belated as it may be – not a bad one, apart from the soundtrack perhaps. by the way, where in “woke” does it say you have to lose your sense of humour?

  14. wrong lady a enters Kix Brooks American Country Countdown for the week of 3/22/21 (Billboard country airplay chart powered by Nielsen).
    Never was a big fan of this trio and Like a Lady won’t change that. Singer/Songwriter Victoria Shaw, (born in Manhattan) and co-producer of Lady Ante’s debut album is a far better vocalist than Hillary Scott.

  15. Look here is the review- this song is terrible.

    But the way this review is written is unnecessarily aggressive, a terrible attempt at being woke, and just outrage for the sake of being outraged. This is yet another example of what is destroying this website, and it is what is destroying a lot of other websites out there. Instead of just calling the song bad the review has- has- to be about something.

    The whole Lady A thing is a bad move by Antebellum but the actual Lady A has some backlash in all of this too as some of the qualifications she threw out there were kind of ridiculous on the surface as well.

    And you are reading A LOT into the lyrics. Seriously- get back here to just reviewing the quality, or lack thereof, of songs instead of turning everything into a contest to see who can be more woke.

  16. This site has been around for 17 years and is still going strong. It was created by Kevin in response to the highly egregious treatment of the Chicks . His defense of them was not a popular perspective within country music at the time. But as it turns out, Kevin was on the right side of history back then and the country music industry’s and community’s treatment of them not only looks silly, but also embarrassing and ridiculous now! So, I think Country Universe will continue to do just fine for as long as Kevin wants to keep it going. People who think CU is ruining itself for being too “woke” haven’t been paying good enough attention to the site in the last 17 years. They can also check themselves in another 17 years and see what history looks like in 2038, but I suspect this Lady Antebellum created situation will look silly/ridiculous as well. Country Universe was started thanks to Kevin’s “wokeness” and I’m guessing it will continue to thrive in spite of (because of) it.

  17. While we’re on the topic of the Chicks, I will say that although I am more of a libertarian-leaning conservative, I was virulently opposed to their being blackballed by country music in the wake of The Incident. It left a void in country music with lasting and possibly fatal consequences, and for all anyone knows, had it not been for them being kicked out of country, to steal a certain song title, Lady A may well never have been a thing in the first place.

  18. @thepistolero

    Appreciate that nuanced take, and it’s one of the reasons I’m always happy to see you pop up in the comment threads here.

  19. @Paul Dennis – Whether or not people are reading into the title and lyric too much is a bit irrelevant. Intended or not, these things can easily be read into them, and considering what has been going on, ‘Lady A’ should be more than sensitive to it. So, they are either being willfully obtuse here, or they are consciously being jerks. Either take is pretty bad.

  20. The Chicks thing was easy to be on the right side of though because in that instance there was not a clear case to both sides. Natalie Maines made a comment about the President and the right freaked out for no apparent reason. There were no “sides” in that. It was either this or that and from there it was a matter of do you support them or not.

    This Lady A thing is all silly. Lady Antebellum picked a stupid name to change too but they had anecdotally been referred to as Lady A without a peep form anyone. Then they formally changed their name and lawsuits came. They met with the solo artist and by all accounts worked out a deal. Then the solo Lady A got new representation and they tried to change the terms of the deal. Then the band sued more steadfastly to gain the name. The solo artist claims common law rights but that is not exactly how this stuff works.

    Either way though- NONE of that has to do with this song. NONE of it matters to the context of this song. The review is poorly written and couches it’s criticism almost solely in the idea that band Lady A is stealing a black woman’s name and in a roundabout way calls them racist. That is not being critical of a song, that is being critical of a person or a group and making that the rationale for the song being terrible rather than it just being terrible. Again- this is what is ruining websites and discourse in this country. Not everything that is bad needs to be something bigger. It can just be bad.

    For goodness sake- there are 5 references to race in this review and 4 times it is mentioned about a “black woman.” What does the color of the skin of solo Lady A have to do with anything? If stealing the name is such an egregious crime it shouldn’t. But this review makes it all about that.

    Yes- Kevin started this website in the wake of Dixie Chicks outrage. Now he is becoming the thing he fired against back then. Maybe if the site would get more than the few sparing reviews it gets he would have less time to be woke and could criticize on the merits of content.

  21. I appreciate that very much, Jonathan. I always try to offer a worthy contribution. For full disclosure, I do generally prefer artists don’t get political unless their music is such in the first place, and that goes for right and left wingers. But I don’t begrudge them doing so. They’re Americans too.

    As far as Lady A(ntebellum) goes, I agree with LeeAnn that they really messed up what started out to be a good thing. Even if they were justified (and I don’t know enough about it to say whether they were), there’s little denying that the optics are horrible.

  22. @me “What does the color of the skin of solo Lady A have to do with anything?” If you can’t see how a group of white people with the power/access Lady A has using that power/access to strip a Black woman of her name as having anything to do with race, then I’m not sure there is more anyone here can say to you. But I will try. 1) The group’s original name was problematic for reasons related to race, already showing ignorance on their part. 2) Then in changing their name, that same group does so at the expense of a Black woman. 3) Now they release a song that seemingly plays off that group name while ostensibly being couched in terms of feminism.

  23. Jason- I have agreed from the start that I think Lady A’s name change thing was stupid. Honestly it was a dumb unforced error for them because the name was a problem from the start and no one really said anything about it. They changed it and it created more problems for them. Also, they had a deal worked out with solo Lady A and then she switched representation and they tried to get more money. That was when the band claimed copyright and the sides exchanged lawsuits.

    I have also agreed from the start that this song is terrible. But to claim it is some knock at the solo artist is really stretching to make a thin point at best.

    Furthermore, this review is not about the terribleness of the song. It is a personal ad hominem attack against Lady A basically calling them racists and painting the song as being bad because it is perceived to be a knock against a black woman. A point that Kevin makes 5 times in the review. The review would not hold up to any kind of logical argument and again- things are allowed to be just terrible without having to be some cause. And again- this review would not be some cause if this was a white artists name they were taking. But yes- everyone should keep projecting whatever cause they want to champion onto all of this.

  24. @ Nathaniel Arnold:

    Lady A has neither disappeared nor imploded, but they have also never fulfilled the promise of their first record.

    This was spot-on, and exactly what I’d have said had I not been up at 2 AM to take care of some personal business. Well done.

    Also, I don’t mean to be a pedant, Paul, but I’d like to address this:

    By any objective standard, this song is somewhere in the C- to D range, not an F

    I think it could be argued that a song review constitutes the opinions of the reviewer, so it’s subjective by definition. 5 different reviewers are going to have 5 different opinions. Just for grins, I checked what I’d guess is a somewhat popular country blog (initials Tango Oscar Charlie) and from what they wrote they seem to think it’s at least kinda swell. Who’s right and who’s wrong? And for the one who’s right, why’s their standard more valid?

  25. This

    “Lady A has neither disappeared nor imploded, but they have also never fulfilled the promise of their first record.”

    Would have been a perfectly valid way to frame a negative review of this single as well. No it HAD to be about racism and some other such nonsense.

  26. @me “Would have been a perfectly valid way to frame a negative review of this single as well. No it HAD to be about racism and some other such nonsense.” I can see that your username is apropos.

  27. Too bad that your distaste for this song and group has made you twist this into a racist soap box rant instead of a legitimate critique of this rather crappy song.

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